Beyond Instructional Development: An Exploration of Using Formal Pedagogy Training to Benefit Perceived Quality of Life and Sense of Community in Graduate Students


The Association of American Colleges and Universities calls for improvements in teaching preparation in graduate programs as a transferable skill for future faculty. However, the amount of institutional and faculty support for these programs is limited. For the relatively few programs that exist, rarely do they have their outcomes assessed in a data-driven manner. This is disconcerting considering that participation in professional development can improve work-life balance, and graduate students often work long hours, suffer from mental health issues, and face increasing career competition. In this case study, we explore how two teaching development programs impacted pedagogical knowledge, perceived quality of life, and sense of community in graduate students at the University of California, Irvine. Using a mixed methods approach, we demonstrate that participants in our introductory quarter-long Developing Teaching Excellence course increased their pedagogical knowledge, and participants in both our introductory course and our advanced year-long Pedagogical Fellows Program reported having improved quality of life and sense of belonging. Most commonly, participants framed these pedagogical programs/courses as providing a safe and inclusive space to explore teaching in an interdisciplinary manner; a network of like-minded and supportive peers; and an opportunity to develop greater confidence in teaching, mentorship, and other aspects of graduate life such as conducting research and entering the academic job market. Taken together, our results indicate that providing a structured, nurturing environment for graduate students to develop their pedagogical knowledge and practice may lead to improved quality of life and sense of belonging.


pedagogical training, pedagogy, quality of life, graduate students

How to Cite

Mahavongtrakul, M., Hooper, A., Mann, D., & Sato, B. (2021). Beyond instructional development: An exploration of using formal pedagogy training to benefit perceived quality of life and sense of community in graduate students. To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development, 40(2). doi:






Matthew Mahavongtrakul orcid logo (University of California, Irvine)
Ashley Hooper orcid logo (University of California, Irvine)
Daniel Mann (University of California, Irvine)
Brian Sato orcid logo (University of California, Irvine)





Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0


Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: e16aa681fd7b9c49ff0d8b8aa931aaa7